The World Before

In the days before the Red Tide, the world was no better and no worse than it ever was. The elves dreamed and debated in their far lands, fenced in by the sea and the shore. The dwarves delved deep in their mountain homes, sometimes warring on their tall neighbors but more often at peace and trade with them. The little folk of gnomes and halflings were content in their minor domains, only a few adventurous souls traveling out into the world to see what the big folk were doing. And the humans, of course, were as humans always are, with their empires and heroes and villainous foes.

The greatest of the human nations was the Ninefold Celestial Empire, a broad and sweeping land ruled by a divine emperor upon his glorious Jade Throne. Imperial Mandarins were spread throughout the land to oversee cities and provinces, faithful Magistrates at their sides to carry out the laws of the Emperor. Enormous cities were fed by the teeming rice paddies and barleyfields of the empire, and trade and artifice reached a peak unknown in other human lands. Some were even so bold as to suggest that the great arcanists of the Empire were superior to the elven archmages of the House of Peace, though no occasion was given for testing this claim. The Empire was content within the boundaries of its borders, and the elves were ever too busy with their own affairs to look outward into the world.

Other nations drew the Empire's attention, not least the black-maned pirates that came down from the Skandr lands of the north to plunder and pillage the shoreside villages of the Empire. To the east, the pale warriors of Eirengard sold their services to any nation that could pay them, and beyond them the quarreling statelets of the Eshkanti lands growled and snapped over oases in their arid lands. To the west, the dark mountains of the Gadaal sheltered their people beneath the skies they worshipped. Sometimes these nations dealt peaceably, sometimes they fought, and sometimes they perished in waves of savage invaders. Such was the nature of the world- at least, until the Red Tide came.

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